Fantastic Planet (1973)

 

I could eat you like a shrimp!
I could eat you like a shrimp!

Genre: Sci-Fi Animation (France, Czechoslovakia)

Starring: Jennifer Drake, Eric Baugin 

Directed By: René Laloux (Light YearsTime Masters)

Overview: Humans co-exist on a fantastic planet with a race of giants, however it is the technologically advanced Draags and not the savage humans who are in charge. In fact, Draags see the Oms as nothing more than pets, sometimes even as vermin worthy of nothing more than extermination.

In the opening scene of Fantastic Planet we find a woman, terrified, running for her life with her child in her arms. She flees through a strange forest wearing only rags. As she climbs a small hill, an enormous blue hand blocks her way, then flicks her down the hill. She tumbles in horror craddling the baby for protection. Again and again hands block her path in much the same way as a child would play with an insect. The hands flick her relentlessly, they pick her up and drop her, they toy with her until she stops moving. The baby lies in its dead mother's arms, crying. A passerby picks it up and decides to adopt it as a pet. From this point on, the story's themes is about the dynamic between these two races: the giant, blue, technologically advanced Draags, and the savage miniature Oms, often domesticated as pets, though usually considered nothing more than over-reproductive vermin.
 
The era this was made in is rather obvious in Fantastic Planet's style, the surreal art, costume design, environment, the Draags... everything really. Though, instead of being passé and dated, it adds a fantastical nostalgia and familiar strangeness to every scene, every visual moment.
 
What makes Fantastic Planet so wonderful is how seriously the subject matter is approached. Animated films with adult themes  add an element of childhood - that is then shattered - and seem to tug at the emotions just a little more. As heavy-hitting as Japanese Animée like Akira and Grave of the Fireflies or British animated works like The Plague Dogs and When The Wind Blows, Fantastic Planet doesn't pull any punches with its themes of genocide and animal cruelty just because it's animated.
Poor savage pet
Poor savage pet

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 84% (Plan It!)
Aftertaste:

In fact I would say that the problem with Fantastic Planet is its length. Short at at 72 minutes, the conclusion would have benefited from a fully developed final act, rather than the quickly resolved narration explaining how everything was concluded. I have a feeling budget restrictions might have played a part in making this end the way it did, and for as much as I regretted this film's length, short and sweet is still often better.

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Good to see you back amoungst the living!


Thanks Jeff, I could very well say the same to you!

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